This second lockdown has been a challenging time, and we are grateful for everyone cooperating with the measures. We must continue to work together to bring Bristol's rate down. Please don’t visit other households, respect social distancing, wash your hands regularly and wear a face covering in enclosed spaces. Official government guidelines on the new restrictions can be found here.
Bristol Council has produced video messages in six different languages to cover the importance of adhering to the rules and provide information on where to find additional support. The messages are in Polish, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Somali and Arabic - you can view them here.
Remember, if you develop symptoms, you must either book a test slot or order a home test kit. You can book a test online or through the NHS COVID-19 app.
We know there will be people struggling to get hold of food, medical supplies or other necessities because they are self-isolating. If you need help please contact the council’s hotline on 0800 694 0184. And as before Bristol needs volunteers to help with all this – if you want to get involved find out more here or contact us.
In November 2016 Bristol City Council unanimously voted for a Green Party motion to support a clean air zone for Bristol. Four years later and we’ve still seen no progress. Green Councillor Charlie Bolton, who brought the motion to Full Council in November 2016, called the lack of action “a shocking dereliction of responsibility towards the vulnerable in our city.”
Air pollution contributes to over 300 deaths in Bristol each year – in some parts of the city as many as 1 in 10 deaths are attributable to toxic air.
Councillor Charlie Bolton said:
“I suppose I ought to be surprised that Bristol has taken 4 years not to implement a Clean Air zone, but little surprises me about the current administration any more. Some 1200 people have had their lives shortened since the original motion - a quite shocking dereliction of responsibility towards the vulnerable in our city.”
Air pollution is estimated to cost the average city resident almost £900 per year in sick days and healthcare and globally is now thought to kill more people than smoking. Green Councillors expressed alarm last month as air pollution levels in the city returned to above legal limits despite coronavirus restrictions. Air pollution has been linked to higher infections and deaths from COVID-19 in an increasing number of studies.
MP Caroline Lucas joins Green air pollution campaigners in 2016
Councillor Jerome Thomas said:
“The story of Bristol’s toxic air over the last four years has been a tale of foot-dragging inaction. Things got so bad that even the government, hardly known for its forward thinking approach to clean air, threatened to take Bristol to court if it didn’t take action. Bristol’s Mayor has missed deadline after deadline to clean up our air and it is the poorest and most vulnerable who will pay the price – choking on the fumes from our city’s car addiction and inaction from those in power.
“Recent steps to improve a few walking and cycling routes in our city centre are of course to be welcomed, but they will not clean up the air for all the communities across our city. The quickest and most efficient way to clean up our dangerous air is the clean air zone that was promised 4 years ago.”
Following almost four years of work by a cross party group of councillors, Bristol Council has approved a new housing planning policy which will allow the Council to support mixed and balanced communities by restricting the proportion of shared houses in areas of the city.
The new policy was arrived at after years of work by Green Party Councillor Clive Stevens and a group of councillors from other parties, including Lib Dem Councillor Anthony Negus, Conservative Councillor Mark Weston and Labour Councillors Paul Smith and Nicola Beech.
The policy will limit the number of HMOs in an area, stem the loss of family homes and ensure better conditions for tenants, by setting higher standards for room sizes, sound insulation and bin and bike storage. The policy was proposed in response to a rapid expansion of HMOs in recent years to meet growing student numbers, which has restricted the supply of other types of homes and sometimes caused friction between long-term residents and students in parts of the city.
Read more here.
Green Councillor Carla Denyer has secured a commitment from the telecoms giant Openreach to improve their practices in Bristol after raising residents’ complaints with managers from the telecoms company.
Residents in Clifton Down had their phone lines and internet shut off for maintenance work without notice on 22nd September, causing disruption for anyone working from home at the time. Local Green Councillor Carla Denyer also received a number of complaints about new telegraph poles in the ward (which is a Conservation Area) being erected without notice, and in some cases blocking pavement access for people using wheelchairs or pushchairs.
Councillor Carla Denyer at one of the telegraph poles in Clifton Down
After raising residents’ complaints and speaking with managers from Openreach, Carla has been told the company will change their policies in Bristol to try and do better in future. The new changes include:
Councillor Denyer said:
- 28 days’ notice of any new telegraph poles in Conservation Areas (which cover most of Bristol’s city centre, West and North West).
- Proactive liaison with all local councillors, via Council staff.
- Residents to be informed in advance about any planned phone/internet outages that will last more than 20 minutes.
- Openreach will ensure telegraph poles never block pavements – a new pole on Downside Road in Clifton Down will be removed following complaints about this.
“Shutting down people’s internet without notice is completely unacceptable, particularly during the current situation when so many of us are working from home. I’m glad resident’s concerns have finally been listened to by Openreach. And it’s good that they are now working with the Council to give residents 28 days’ notice before installing new telegraph poles – though I think this should be expanded to cover everyone in Bristol, not just those living in Conservation Areas.”
Following a motion proposed by Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke in January this year, the Council is now planning to hold a Citizens’ Assembly in January, February and March next year to talk about how we recover from COVID-19 and create a better future for all in Bristol.
Invitations to join the Assembly will soon be sent randomly across the city by an independent partner and residents who receive a letter will be invited to put in an expression of interest. Panel members are expected to be confirmed by the beginning of December.
Learn more about Citizens' Assemblies here.
Way back in April this year Greens called for road space reallocation to help make Bristol safe for people to exercise and stay socially distanced during lockdown. After repeated pressure and a funding grant from the government, the council began to roll out some street changes this summer, and more are in the planning stage including Cotham Hill (see top of this email).
We think these are mostly changes for the better, but could have been better designed and consulted, and could go a lot further – for example Gloucester road has some of the most dangerous spots for cyclists outside of London and would really benefit from a protected bike lane.
You can submit your own ideas to the council on the interactive map here.
UBI Lab Bristol is petitioning the Council to call for a UBI trial in the city. If it gets 3,500 signatures, Council will debate the issue. Where other UBI trials have happened, poverty has been reduced, and people have been able to lead more fulfilling lives. You can sign and share the petition from here.